Police: Man convicted in major retail theft ring caught stealing - KPTV - FOX 12

Police: Man convicted in major retail theft ring caught stealing again from grocery stores

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Prior jail booking photos of Robert Christopher Bagby. Prior jail booking photos of Robert Christopher Bagby.
Surveillance images of Robert Bagby (KPTV) Surveillance images of Robert Bagby (KPTV)
GRESHAM, OR (KPTV) -

A convicted felon who served time for stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise is back at it again, according to Gresham police.

Officers were pretty sure Robert Christopher Bagby would pay a visit to the Safeway at 122nd Avenue and Glisan Street on Tuesday morning, and when he did, they were ready.

Bagby was arrested and charged with five counts of felony aggravated theft. Police said they’d caught him stealing at the store, and asked him about other reported thefts at Safeway stores around Portland and Gresham.

It was the culmination of an investigation that started more than a year ago, according to Scott Chapman, Albertsons-Safeway’s Portland division director of asset protection.

“He was such a frequent flier – or such a habitual offender – that he would get caught, he would get cited, he would get released, he would come right back to the stores and continually do this, two or three times a day, seven days a week,” Chapman said.

Knowing they’d likely wouldn’t get far pursuing misdemeanor offenses, investigators decided they’d try to pin Bagby with the felony charges – meaning they would have to prove he had stolen more than $1,000 in goods.

Gresham Police Department Detective Brandon Crate, who also serves as the president for the Northwest Organized Retail Crime Alliance, said the investigation revealed 79 separate cases where Bagby stole about $6,000 in laundry soap and other items since October 2016.

“We are committed to assisting our retail partners in combating organized retail theft,” Crate said of the investigation and arrest.  

In reality, Chapman said the company has likely lost a lot more from Bagby.

“He does it every day, 365 days a year, $300 a day – his own admissions,” Chapman said, adding the totals easy exceed about $100,000 in a year. “My team decided to go out and build a case on him, so that when he was apprehended, he would potentially be facing some time or get the help that he needs.”

According to police, Bagby would take the stolen goods and then sell them out on the streets at places like apartment complexes or MAX train stops.

“It’s a pure profit business,” Chapman said. “This is an enterprise where you can sell large amounts of product for pure profit and little risk because of the thresholds in most states is about $1000 between a misdemeanor and a felony.”

Bagby is no stranger to the lifestyle.

In 2012, he was arrested and convicted on felony charges stemming from a theft ring case where four others were arrested and Gresham police raided an apartment to find $20,000 in stolen goods from grocery stores and other retailers.

Court records show Bagby has been arrested at least 25 times in Multnomah County since 2006.

It’s frustrating for those who said jail time and repeated crime is often a revolving door that too often lands at their feet.

“When you see businesses going out of business, when you hear about the other retailers that are struggling out there, in their communities, that’s a lot in part due to some of this problem,” Chapman said.

In fact, the National Retail Federation recently put out a report showing 67 percent of retailers it surveyed reported an increase in organized retail crime.

The organization said the companies’ losses ranged anywhere from $726,251 to $1 billion in sales.

Chapman said Albertsons-Safeway’s Portland division alone loses millions a year, making it extra important to prosecute as many cases as possible.

Bagby will be in Multnomah County Court on Wednesday afternoon.

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